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Possible Nondiscrimination Ordinance Explored in County

The still-hypothetical ordinance would offer typical nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It's not yet clear whether Montgomery County can enact any nondiscrimination ordinance under state law.

Through an array of federal and state laws afford legal protections against discrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion, age, national origin and disability, a hypothetical Montgomery County ordinance would seek to afford similar protections to people who could suffer discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

"I believe it is critically important for our county to be at the leading edge of ensuring the rights of everyone in Montgomery County, in particular those who do not have certain protected rights right now in the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered] community," Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Chairman Josh Shapiro said in announcing the creation of a working group led by county solicitor Ray McGarry.

Part of the working group's job will be to determine whether state law affords Montgomery County the standing to enact such an ordinance or whether the county could bring any authority to bear on parties found to be in violation of any such ordinance.

Shapiro said his personal involvement in the issue stemmed from his co-sponsorship of PA House Bill 300, which was introduced in 2009 and has languished in the House Committee on State Government for almost two years. The bill would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act of 1955 to include legal protection for "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression." The current law provides protection against discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, handicap or disability, education, and the use of a guide dog. 

"I think it's important that we explore what we can and can't do as a [Class] 2A county in order to protect those rights," Shapiro said, faulting current PA House leadership for its failure to pass House Bill 300.

"With the chairman of the relevant committee, Darryl Metcalfe, who I think is one of the most closed-minded, bigoted human beings in the world, let alone in the [state] Legislature, it won't be possible to get that passed at the state level, and Governor Corbett has vowed to veto it. I think he's wrong on that issue," Shapiro said.

In the absence of a state law, 22 Pennsylvania municipalities have passed nondiscrimination ordinances that specifically included protections for LGBT persons. Locally, Jenkintown, and Lower Merion enacted such ordinances in 2011. Montgomery County could be the first county to do so, according to a list published in January by the Human Rights Campaign.

Shapiro said he expects that McGarry's working group will complete its analysis of the county's options in "months, not years."

SMYRNA-X March 22, 2013 at 12:39 PM
What a waste of time. Well I guess its distracting these clowns from looting the county for 10 minutes.
Steve Rappoport March 22, 2013 at 01:53 PM
Why is it a waste of time?
gerhard sweetman March 22, 2013 at 01:58 PM
LGBT discrim: homes searched yearly, LGBT silent. Govt inspections criminal.
The optimist March 22, 2013 at 05:16 PM
smyrna is funny.... now the last admin you could accuse of looting. If anything this admin is actually trying to right the ship . Even if you think its a clown ship.
Erica Redahan Weiherer March 24, 2013 at 05:10 AM
A waste of time? Since when was the preservation of people's civil rights a waste of time?! I personally think it's fantastic that a county wide non-discrimination ordinance is being discussed in Montgomery County, since the PA General Assembly can't seem to pass statewide protection yet, at least local government is taking a step in fighting for equality.
Lee March 24, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Instead of an "ordinance", could Montoc create a p.r. campaign where the business community promotes acceptance "willingly", and leave out the threat of lawsuits out. The proposed human rights commission creates a non elected entity that holds power over citizens, even if they have done nothing illegal they are put in a position where they have to prove their innocence. That is backwards. Will the accuser receive legal assistance, at tax payer expense? These ordinances presume the alleged victim is automatically innocent, and that the business is guilty until proven innocent. No surprise that the legal community absolutely loves these ordinances.
Bill April 25, 2013 at 03:36 PM
It is part of the Gay agenda. The average person is in the dark and says "Why?". Get local munnies to pass "no hate, no bully" laws even though no crimes have ever occurred. Then the counties, then the states, then the country. Then people and businesses will be held hostage to the LGBT Alliance to conform to their demands. Boy Scouts of America, Chick Filet, and YWCA to name a few. If they can create a protective status than "forever employment" and "quota advancements" for Gays is the goal because companies will fear the law suites and bad PR. Kinda of like ... Become the Bullier to force your views on others ...
Area Patch Reader April 25, 2013 at 03:46 PM
Whose homes are searched yearly? You bring this up in every topic yet I (nor I doubt anyone else) has any clue what you are talking about. Please enlighten us about these annual government "home searches".
Area Patch Reader April 25, 2013 at 03:49 PM
Bill, how does this impact non gays other than forbid them from discriminating against others? Live and let live. I don't get the gay life style and particularly don't get the man on an stuff but who the heck cares what consenting adults do with each other. Let them get married if they want. How does it impact my marriage to my wife? It doesn't... As I said before, the Republican party has truly become the party of hate. Sad...
Bill April 27, 2013 at 06:02 AM
I know, right! APR, I felt the same way, "Who cares what they do", until it started being forced on my kids in school. Then I started to do some research to find out what is going on. As an example: Archbishop prays while topless gay activists shout curses and douse him with water. In an astonshing display of gentleness in the face of a vile attack, the head of the Catholic Church in Belgium, Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, remained calmly seated with eyes closed in prayer Tuesday as four topless women attacked him with shouts and curses and doused him with water. It’s not the first time the bishop has been attacked for standing up for the Church’s teachings on homosexuality and expressing his concern for those who live the homosexual lifestyle. The incident took place at the ULB University in Brussels where the archbishop was participating in a debate on blasphemy laws. The four women, representing the pro-abortion and homosexual group FEMEN, took to the stage where they disrobed to reveal black-painted slogans on their bare chests and backs, such as ‘my body my rules,’ and 'anus dei is coming.' They also held signs reading ‘stop homophobia’. The women doused the archbishop with water from bottles formed in the image of the Virgin Mary. The pictures were sad & disturbing but the video on another site horrific. http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archbishop-prays-while-topless-gay-activists-shout-curses-and-douse-him-wit
Pink April 27, 2013 at 04:04 PM
Are there any queers in the theater tonight? Get them up against the wall! There's one in the spotlight, he don't look right to me, Get him up against the wall! That one looks Jewish! And that one's a coon! Who let all of this riff-raff into the room? There's one smoking a joint, And another with spots! If I had my way, I'd have all of you shot!

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